Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Q & A

Q As the deputy head in a rural school, my responsibilities include the oversight and management of the finance manager, who is a member of the leadership team. She has, in my opinion, serious difficulties in performing her job and is increasingly ignoring and bypassing me to discuss issues with the head. I do not have confidence that the head will support me - although I don't think either the finance manager or the head knows this. What can I do?

A Your first step should be to alert the head to your concerns and to tell him how you are trying to resolve them. You should then tell the finance manager quite clearly that you are her line manager, and as such she reports to you, not the head, and therefore she should not bother the head with matters which she hasn't discussed with you.

You must strive to avoid formal action at this stage, including a potential grievance against you by the finance manager, who may feel hard done by. If you can, try to assist her to improve. If she can't or won't, then consider giving her a formal deadline for performance improvement, followed, if appropriate, by a competency procedure.

Q I am head of a large inner city comprehensive. Our assistant director of education has been in touch; she was contacted recently by the leader of the city council. During a public consultation on budgetary matters, an ex-parent alleged that she educated her child at home because an older sibling was bullied in my school and the school had failed to address the problem. Ofsted reports said that the school handles issues of bullying very well, and I can refute the allegation. But I am upset by this political interference. Is there anything else I should do?

A Politicians have to act on behalf of their constituents, and as such the council leader has followed what would seem to be the correct route. At this stage, you may wish to share with her details of the school's response to the incident in question, and invite her into school to see for herself how behaviour is managed.

Although unfounded allegations are hurtful, you should have no cause for real concern because Ofsted has upheld your school's anti-bullying policy and as well as your execution of it.

Q On a recent school trip for sixth formers to the US, the party leader - a very experienced trip organiser and one of the students' teachers - had a problem with a boy. A number of the students were up in the middle of the night in a hotel room when some of them started messing about. When the party leader went in to quiet things down, the boy tried to duck under the teacher, who blocked his way. The boy went ballistic, swearing and threatening. No amount of talking would calm him down and the parents have now been drawn in on the party's return to the UK. What should we do?

A You will need to formalise this and conduct a proper procedural investigation of what happened based on your published school policies. Treat this matter no differently than any other behaviour incident that happens in school.

You will be looking at not only the allegations against the boy but also ascertain whether the staff were behaving responsibly at the time by allowing the party to be up in the middle of the night. Was alcohol being consumed? Had parents allowed it?

If there is found to be any infringement of either school rules or expected professional behaviour, then appropriate sanctions should be taken, however much time has passed since the incident.

Continued growth?

Q If a teacher's original management allowance has been safeguarded once the new teaching and learning allowances have been introduced, will that teacher continue to get annual pay increases described in the STPCD and will the post threshold performance management progression (UPS 2 and UPS 3) overtake the safeguarded allowance?

A Safeguarding ceases when the progression up the post threshold scale overtakes the safeguarded allowance. However, the annual pay increases negotiated for the whole profession do increase the teacher's salary but do not count as far as terminating that safeguard.

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